Sleep and Irritability

Getting a good night’s sleep while you’re pregnant is easier said than done. Your newly enlarged shape makes it difficult to get comfortable, and your mind is usually racing with questions and worries about your impending labor. Of course, everyone tells you to sleep now before your little bundle of joy arrives to keep you up all night, but sometimes you just can’t relax. As in life before pregnancy, a lack of sleep can make us feel more irritable and more bummed out than usual. A recent study shows that the same holds true for women who are pregnant, and maybe even more so.

The study was designed to explore proper treatments for women who were well into their pregnancy. There are some drawbacks to taking anti-depressants while pregnant if you’ve never taken them before, so alternative treatments are necessary. Interestingly enough, the study’s results showed that the best treatment for depression during pregnancy was not really a depression remedy at all. Instead, they showed that women who were depressed in the second or third trimester were usually those who were extra tired from lack of sleep.

Fatigue or Depression?

The irritability and fatigue from exhaustion were usually confused with depressive symptoms. Therefore, the best way to treat these women for their perceived depression was to assist them in getting a proper night’s sleep. In other words, your depression towards the end of your pregnancy might not actually be depression at all. You could simply be fatigued and run down from a lack of rest, and the remedy is as simple as getting enough rest.

Of course, getting enough rest is not always that simple, but it is far less complicated than treating actual depression with medication and anti-depressants. If you really do feel that you are depressed during your pregnancy, make sure you speak with your healthcare provider right away. If it’s not just a result of your fatigue, it should be handled as early as possible to improve your quality of life and your baby’s health. If you think sleep might be the cause, try new ways to sleep through the night. Exercising during the day, eliminating all caffeine from your diet, and eating well-balanced meals could all help you sleep better at night. If you’re still having trouble, make sure you speak with your healthcare provider about remedies to cure insomnia that are safe to take during your pregnancy.

Source: SY Tsai et al: Daily Sleep And Fatigue Characteristics In Nulliparous Women During The Third Trimester Of Pregnancy. College of Medicine Department of Nursing Volume 35 Issue 2 pp. 257-262 February 2012

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